D&D next Advantage / Disadvantage mechanic - thoughts?


4th Edition

Liberty's Edge

We have been giving D&D next a serious playtest (meaning serious time). With the release of the levels 6-10 in the playtest we discussed how we think the game is going some far. One highlight of the game for us (we generally agreed) was the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. We find it fast and produces great results without making things a certainty (boring) or being too underpowered result-wise. Having an Advantage doesn't seem as fun as seeing someone roll a disadvantage - we had the extreme of a 20 and 1 the other night. The crest fallen look on the players face has she had to take the 1 and not the vaulted and coveted 20! Classic. D&D next to date is producing 'old school' joy with a very streamlined set of mechanics.

D&D next is really coming together nicely. I hope they keep the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid). So far a winning formula.

4e I tried and played because I thought I should, it was fun but with a lower case 'f' - D&D next is on my advanced Christmas list.

So levels 6-10 here we come!

S.


We havent given it serious time, quite the opposite I must admit. We tried the first playtest a few times and did not like the effect of the advantage/disadvantage system. We found the impact too much and too all emcompassing- every time you get an advantage its the same mechanical benefit feels blah, so we abandoned it. I cant really comment on how the other changes effected the game (like fighter dice or whatever) as we had given up by then.

Now I recognize that we may not have given it a fair go but my group has limited gaming time so if we dont like a system after a few tries we move onto something we do like.

Having said this I will buy D&D Next when it comes out, and I will run it. I dont know how long my group will last.

(off topic)I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that WOTC put a whole lot of effort into making the start up adventure a compelling, knock the ball out of the park storyline, with awesome villain characters, brilliant combat encounters and the like right at the start. If they do then that will keep us playing, it will make us want to find out what is going on in the adventure. It will mean we will overlook things that irk us to start with and maybe by the time the great adventure is over we will want to play more and any complaints with the system will be lessened by familiarity.

Liberty's Edge

Werecorpse wrote:
We found the impact too much and too all emcompassing- every time you get an advantage its the same mechanical benefit feels blah, so we abandoned it.

Interesting. May I ask what you mean by a large impact? If shifts the odds but not as much as set bonuses stacking (ala 3.5e) We found it a quick way to represent what is it meant to but one that doesn't mean an auto-success (or failure). Strangely enough we love the idea of a simple and standard mechanic which can cover numerous situations that under 3.5e would have involved remembering a many modifiers. Great DM tool I found, when stuck for a way to reward a great description of, say how the player is hiding you can, you can simply give them an advantage (bad example if the player is a rogue I know). Attempting to swing on a rope and attack - simple, a disadvantage. With my DM hat on I found that we rarely had to look up rules with D&D next and didn't require massive amounts of game mechanic information on the character sheets.

Horses for courses, what you dislike I hail as a true master stroke!


We've been playing Next for a few months now about once a week for a few hours and we generally like the advantage/disadvantage mechanic. It's easy for the DM to apply and involves less math. Not that the arithmetic is particularly hard. But if you can just roll the dice and add the bonus on your sheet and then pick the higher (or lower) of the two dice, it's slightly faster in my experience than modifying the die roll itself.

Even if my cursed dice now can screw me over double time. :-)


The effect were already there in previous editions, but it wasn't has prominant or given a name.

It is a very nice addition to the game, opening new possibilities, but it is used too often. It seems the designers have a major boner over it and it finds it's way everywhere, making advantage/disavantage less special. Rarety of an effect does count for something: "Woot! I have advantage" is a different feeling from the routine of "I have advantage again, so I...".

The numerical penalty/bonus it gives is also very big. -5/+5 is huge. There are reasons why at low level you just get a +1 weapon and not a +5 one or that buffs scale with level. This is even more true with all the bounded accuracy hype. A +5/-5 means a lot more with smaller numbers.

It's not always a time saver either, now that it applies to TWF it means a ridciculus amount of dices must be rolled to see if attacks hit. This is why my group doesn't roll to confirm crits, but just multiply the dice damage of the weapon.


To me, the best thing a rules system can do is get out of the way. The rules of Pathfinder aren't perfect... but a lot of people know them and the core mechanic is easy to explain.

What makes Pathfinder great are the modules and adventure paths. If D&D is to compete they will need to find just as talented a group of writers (good luck with that) and put story first. If they can pull it off, I'll buy it. If not... well I'm happy with Pathfinder anyway, and they churn out more adventures than I'll ever be able to run anyway.

I'm just not interested in jumping on the WotC edition train. I just don't enjoy learning new systems that much.


cailano wrote:

To me, the best thing a rules system can do is get out of the way. The rules of Pathfinder aren't perfect... but a lot of people know them and the core mechanic is easy to explain.

What makes Pathfinder great are the modules and adventure paths. If D&D is to compete they will need to find just as talented a group of writers (good luck with that) and put story first. If they can pull it off, I'll buy it. If not... well I'm happy with Pathfinder anyway, and they churn out more adventures than I'll ever be able to run anyway.

I'm just not interested in jumping on the WotC edition train. I just don't enjoy learning new systems that much.

I'm not sure how well this model would work. I mean why would you even consider changing just because there where great stories? After all as you noted you currently have more great stories than you are likely to be able to run in your life time and more come out all the time. Why would you bother to learn a new system for great stories?

Now I do think they want to put some effort in that direction - not everyone plays pathfinder and if they are to attract and retain the rest of the audience they should provide some great stories to play.

Interestingly enough as a 4E player I suspect that I'll likely look more toward Paizo for material to convert and such then to WotC. 3rd edition/Pathfinder is a way closer cousin to 4E then D&DN is shaping up to be.


Well first off, the math behind the advantage / disadvantage mechanic is wonky. Your effective bonus varies based on the target number you are trying to roll on the dice. From http://anydice.com/program/ba

D20
Roll
Target Effective bonus (rounded to nearest bonus)
1 0
2 +1
3 +2
4 +2
5 +3
6 +4
7 +4
8 +4
9 +5
10 +5
11 +5
12 +5
13 +5
14 +4
15 +4
16 +4
17 +3
18 +2
19 +2
20 +1

So as you can see you have weird effects if you need a low number or a high number, it doesn't help you hardly at all. If you need a middle number it is a huge (bounded accuracy breaking) bonus.

What's even weirder is it matters less and less as you level because your base bonuses go up, monster AC doesn't, so you literally start seeing less and less effect as you level.

Then of course there is the stacking issue. Since it doesn't stack with itself you can be stunned, drunk, blinded, prone, deafened, etc...etc... and simply have a -1 to -5 penalty.

In other words, not a well thought out mechanic from a mathematical stand point...


But a simple +1 bonus may not be as well thought out as it seems either: If you needed to roll a 21 or better (succeed on natural 20), then it has no effect.
If you needed a 20, you now succeed on 19 or 20, twice the chance!
19 -> 18 = 150%
18 -> 17 = 133%
etc. Dropping off as your target number goes down.

Change in odds should matter more than what + it maps to in the current system.

Liberty's Edge

lokiare wrote:
So as you can see you have weird effects if you need a low number or a high number, it doesn't help you hardly at all. If you need a middle number it is a huge (bounded accuracy breaking) bonus.

That actually makes sense to me, if a task is trivially easy, having some help probably doesn't give that much benefit. Equally if a task is all but impossible a bit of extra help probably makes it only marginally more likely.


DigitalMage wrote:
lokiare wrote:
So as you can see you have weird effects if you need a low number or a high number, it doesn't help you hardly at all. If you need a middle number it is a huge (bounded accuracy breaking) bonus.
That actually makes sense to me, if a task is trivially easy, having some help probably doesn't give that much benefit. Equally if a task is all but impossible a bit of extra help probably makes it only marginally more likely.

I play 4E. I can justify anything with fluff. I'm more worried about its mechanical impact on the game and the fact that it essentially breaks bounded accuracy (one of the selling points of 5E) and that it cannot stack and cancel out so as long as you have the two weapon fighting feat that allows you to get advantage on a single attack it doesn't matter if you are blinded, dazed, stunned, deafened, and intoxicated, you still have no penalties.

To me its just not a well implemented design.

Liberty's Edge

lokiare wrote:
it cannot stack and cancel out so as long as you have the two weapon fighting feat that allows you to get advantage on a single attack it doesn't matter if you are blinded, dazed, stunned, deafened, and intoxicated, you still have no penalties.

That was one issue I had with it,a single source of Advantage cancelled out multiple sources of disadvantage and vice versa.

Personally if there are more sources of Advantage than Disadvantage you should get Advantage and vice versa. That way if you had Two Weapon Fighting and were Stunned you had no penalties, but if you were Stunned and Dazed you would suffer Disadvantage.

That was one of my playtest feedback comments.


That's certainly how I'd use it.


Actually, the less I have to calculate and take account for the better. A Blind and Drunk character who's attacking a foe who that is paralyized still has to choose the correct area to attack, so I'd just say the advantage of a paralyized character is nullified by being blind and drunk so long as (s)he attacks the right space.

And this also applies to Monsters too. I just don't enjoy that level of micro-management to factor in bonuses, penalties, the number of times advantage applies - the number of times disadvantage applies.


I find the Advantage/ disadvantage system a little too simple. Not enough depth. It create siturations...or atleast has the potential to...that if it occured in a book I would just stop reading the book...or not like the movie.

It also creates a or atleast lends it self well to the 'GM May I' style of game as people jockey for advantage. Which I tend not to like as it just ends up bogging down the game with arguements or people spending 5 to 10 minutes figuring out what to do to gain advantage.

It is really just a very simplistic version of the Alternity rules really.


I like it as a mechanic. The only mechanic not so much and I think I prefer rerolls anyway.

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